BOEM Retaliates, Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing in the Gulf

In August, the Biden administration issued restrictions for vessels engaged in oil and gas activities traveling in the Gulf of Mexico to protect an endangered species, the Rice’s whale. However, last week, the 5th District Court overruled the provisions as they did not provide notice in advance enough of Lease Sale 261, which was supposed to take place in September. Instead of cutting its losses, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) postponed the lease sale pending further review as environmental groups appeal the case.

These proposed rules have little backing as a conservation tactic and would be detrimental to the U.S.’s oil and gas production, especially in a time of global energy uncertainty. Notably, the proposal would remove six million acres of the offshore lease sale as habitat for the Rice’s whale, despite evidence that there are only 51 estimated remaining in the wild. Additionally, the provisions specifically target offshore oil and gas by enforcing strict speed limits for extraction vessels, however, the rules do not apply to offshore wind vessels in the Gulf. The hypocrisy is clear as certain energy projects continue to receive the greenlight while others are left in the dust.

The administration continues to disappoint when it comes to energy policy as it picks industry winners and losers, corrupting our nation’s energy security. If the current actions against the energy industry continue, the U.S. will have to depend on other countries for fuel, risking American jobs and compromising our national security. BOEM must take into consideration the devastating effects this proposal could have and the delay of this lease on America’s energy future and our nation’s workers.

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